Posted 5 years ago
All you collectors reading this - fess up - we love to turn over ugly rocks in hopes of finding precious gems ... right? Over the years, I've been fortunate and the camera shown here is something that caught me by surprise.
This "Korona Special" is a unique, specially commissioned presentation camera, a rare jewel among its peers. While most presentation models are typically average cameras with embellishments and a small dedication plaque, the builder of this camera wanted to make a statement.
What would otherwise be a simple turn-of-the-century folding rollfilm camera is anything but that; and as seen here, the art of the craftsman is on full display.
Elegant floral motifs adorn the leather body panels. But upon closer examination, it is apparent that the body is not merely covered with a thick, embossed leather hide that should have worn down after a century of handling.
Instead, the plush sculptural designs have a crisp look with barely any wear. This was achieved by laboriously carving an unusually thick wooden body and then pressing paper thin leather onto the reliefs. Finally, white metal corners - possibly German silver - add a bit of dramatic contrast and further add to the camera's air of sophistication.
Step back and gaze at the camera; the overall theme is odd and confusing. Instead of keeping with a botanical theme, the unknown builder added perfectly executed playing card suits (clubs, spades, diamonds and hearts) and a large five pointed star beneath the carrying strap.
Sadly, the camera's intended purpose as a possible gift, award or personal memento remains a mystery. But sometime in 1903 - a year prominently taking up most of the underlying drop bed - this one-of-a-kind camera was probably commissioned for someone special.